Kenneth Lynch, Sr.
Kenneth Lynch was an important source of tools for the Liberty Tool Company. Late in his life, after having several strokes, he visited the Hulls Cove Tool Barn in his limo with his chauffeur and demanded to see some of our blacksmith tools, which had to be carried down to his car from the second floor display area. He was happy to purchase several items, possibly among the last items he collected during a career of unsurpassed tool collecting. Shortly thereafter he began dispersing his large collection in Wilton, CT, first having an auction to benefit his alma mata, and then selling tools to individual buyers such as the Liberty Tool Co. Three trips were made to Wilton, CT, the second involving multiple trucks, which returned to Maine with approximately 30 tons of hand tools. Most of these tools have long since been dispersed, but a few fragments of his collection have been obtained by The Davistown Museum (listing of the Lynch collection tools.) Lynch had a long career as a blacksmith, teacher and entrepreneur producing cast iron furniture on the grounds of his many buildings in Wilton, CT. He is most well remembered for his work on the Statue of Liberty, which resulted in a picture on the front page of Time magazine in the late 1940s. His facility in Wilton, CT, has been sold.
The following information is from the introduction to The Kenneth Lynch Tool Collection catalog, 78 Danbury Rd., Wilton, CT 06897.
Over the past 60 years, Mr. Kenneth Lynch, Sr., has traveled the world collecting tools. He has visited flea markets, closed factories, antique dealers, etc., acquiring a hammer here, an anvil there, and has traveled many miles for just one tool. He has purchased large collections from major silver companies such as International Silver. This has brought Mr. Lynch highly valued hammers, stakes, and anvils. Among these many collections purchased are those of International Silver Company, the Metropolitan Silver Company, and the Poole Silver Company.
The very largest part of the Lynch collection comes from France, for certainly the French made beautiful tools, properly hardened, and serviceable.
In France, during the early part of the 20th century, a number of toolmakers began having difficulty selling the many fine tools their shops turned out. These companies had been in existence up to 200 years. All of their tools were made by hand and later individually forged on huge belt-driven power hammers. All were hardened and tempered at the hands of masters. The problem of selling these tools became so great that many companies were in jeopardy of closing. In the 1930's these companies gradually came together to form one cooperative. This would be a fraternity of toolmakers and has come to be known as MOB. The tools were still manufactured in the individual shops, but were all represented by MOB. Each tool bears both the MOB stamp and the stamp of the shop where it was forged.
The MOB companies eventually accrued a large number of hammers, stakes and anvils of odd sizes not popular in the contemporary market. Among these were many styles of beautiful repousse tools. Mr. Lynch acquired all of these tools and had them shipped to the United States. They amounted to several hundred tons.
Other tools acquired in France came from antique tool dealers at the large weekly flea market at Porte de Clignancourte, in the north of Paris.
Many of our finest hammers have come from the notable German firm, Picard. These smithing tools are of the highest quality made today.
Toolmakers from Spain, Italy, Romania and England have contributed fine hammers and anvils to our collection. We have, in the museum, a collection of special anvils from an abandoned armoury in a small Spanish village. Helmets were hammered out by hand in this shop, which was long since closed with all of its tools intact.
Kenneth Lynch started his career of metalsmithing, at the age of eleven, as a farrier's assistant. In his late teens he joined the U.S. Army and served as a farrier in the U.S. Cavalry. His military career would take him to France shortly after World War I. There he studied at prominent art schools and received tutelage from master metalworkers. During this time Kenneth Lynch's desire to collect more and more of the metalsmith's beautiful tools grew. From France he went to Munich to study and work in the shop of Ernst Schmidt. Schmidt was a great producer and dealer of antique and reproduction arms and armour. It was here that Mr. Lynch learned the almost lost art of the armourer. In years to follow, it would serve him well. For in the 1920's upon his return to the States, Kenneth Lynch was contacted by the supervisors of the Statue of Liberty, to repair and replace loose and worn copper plates on the Statue's facade. Long years of abuse from the violent weather and salt spray of New York harbor left the hammered copper skin of Miss Liberty torn and loosened from its skeleton. Kenneth Lynch and his assistants had to remove the old damaged sheets of copper and form new sheets using the same repousse methods in which the statue was made. After completing the Statue of Liberty restoration, Kenneth Lynch opened a metalworking business in New york City and, later a school for metal craftsmen in Long Island. Later he moved his business to Wilton, Connecticut, where Kenneth Lynch and Sons The Craft Center Museum, and Mr. Lynch's vast collection of tools resides today.
Mr. Kenneth Lynch, Sr. is a master metalsmith of worldwide renown. He was a contemporary and colleague of the late Master Smith, Samuel Yellin. Seventy years of smithing has instilled a great fondness for fine tools in Mr. Lynch. He holds the smith in great esteem. For without the smith no other craftsmen can operate. They look to the smith for all of their tools. According to Kenneth Lynch, 'the hammer is simply an extension of a blacksmith's hand. If the hand were hard enough, it would be used alone to shape the metal.'
Mr. Theodore Monnich, a metalsmith and armourer, serves as curator of the Kenneth Lynch Collection of smithing tools. He is responsible for the compiling of this catalog and maintaining Mr. Lynch's private collection. Mr. Monnich is assisting Mr. Lynch on the soon to be published book, The Armourer and His Tools. This book shall focus on the armourer in ancient and modern times, his work, and most especially his tools.
At one time these tools had only been accessible to a very limited few. Mr. Kenneth Lynch now wishes to make them available to the growing number of metal craftsmen and collectors in America.
These beautiful tools are the end product of many years of experience, even centuries. There are hammers, stakes, and anvils for every purpose, particularly for the coppersmith, the blacksmith, and the armourer. Silversmithing tools, are in many cases, made of cast iron because the cast iron is so soft and will not damage the silver. Individual drawings have been made of these tools, sizes and weights given and you will soon begin to see that the smithing field was tremendous, for the occupations of farming, woodworking and smithing occupied most of the talented, willing workers of the past several hundred years.
This collection is so vast that it will certainly take a long time for it to be liquidated and while some pieces are in good supply, many of the more exotic tools are limited. In his research, Mr. Lynch has found that almost all of the tools were designed before being made. This of course is the correct way, and he could study different refinements that came into the tools over the years.
Therefore, a coppersmith tool designed and made in the late 19th century would be a perfect tool as an earlier might not work as well. These refinements, however, are very subtle.